War Bride (Drakoryan Brides Book 3)

By: Ava Sinclair


I change tactics, banking to the right and releasing enough venom to ignite a flame I direct at the annoying Turin. I am rewarded with a scream as fire catches him on a wing joint. It is not a direct hit, but enough to make him veer away.

I head for Jayx, imagining Isla marveling at my speed. I think of my father’s pride. I think of how I hate my brothers. I bear down on Jayx, giving him no time to move above me. I drive him towards a crevasse. As predicted, he starts to roll. I have seen him do this before. He seeks to roll into an upward spin, gaining an advantage once he’s above me. Yet when I’m almost upon him, I spread my wings, cutting off the room he needs to ascend back through the narrowing passage.

Jayx begins to spiral. Somewhere in my mind, I hear a human voice – my own – telling me to pull up, to give him room to rise. But the louder voice of my father screams for me to wait, lest Jayx recover with an advantage. I am lost in my rage. I continue to follow the spinning form of the indigo dragon downward as the jagged rocks rise to meet him.

I’m so focused on Jayx that the glancing blow from the side takes me by surprise. I feel all the air I’d reserved for flame forced from my lungs as I slam into the side of the crevasse. I slide down the slope, snapping off trees and dislodging boulders before rolling from one ledge and slamming into another below. The world spins around me.

As I struggle to reorient myself I realize what has happened.

Turin. As I’d focused on Jayx, our middle brother had flown down and under my spread wing to sideswipe me, allowing Jayx to recover from his spin moments before he would have hit the ground. I see a blue flash as our eldest shoots past where I lie, back up through the crevasse.

I suck in enough air to roar in indignation as I clamber to my feet.

To regain enough speed to rejoin the fight, I need room to dive and rise, but the ledge I’ve landed on is not high enough for that. I can only take off by ascending, and before I can, Jayx is above me. He’s diving into the crevasse, his gold eyes narrowed in determination. I see the white daggers of his teeth, the open cavern of his mouth, and the fireball forming at the back of his throat a split second before a wave of intense heat hits me, searing my scales and fracturing the thin rock beneath me. I am falling again, and this time when I hit the ground there is no recovering. I am too burned, too broken, too bruised.

I have lost.

The battle is between my brothers now. I look to the sky, watching as Jayx now pursues Turin. They rise above the clouds and the mountaintops shake with their roars. They drop through the clouds, their talons clutched together. Jayx has his teeth clenched on the base of Turin’s orange neck by his shoulder.

But Turin – whom I sorely underestimated – is still able to crane his head above where his rival’s teeth are latched. He aims a burst of fire over Jayx’s back, burning the length of his right wing.

Jayx opens his mouth to scream, breaking his hold. The only thing holding Jayx aloft now is Turin’s grip on his talons. Jayx’s burnt wing flops limply at his side. If Turin were to release him, Jayx would fall to his death. But Turin keeps his grip, dipping low enough to drop our brother safely on a ledge.

A shaft of sun breaks through the clouds, illuminating Turin’s orange scales as he circles menacingly over Jayx.

Jayx tries to pump his wings—a useless effort, but who can blame him? Turin responds by setting some trees nearby alight, a reminder that he has the advantage. Even if Jayx could make fire, Turin can avoid it from the air.

The dragon that is Jayx bellows in despair before erupting into an indigo flame that shrinks into his man form. Turin, roaring in victory, circles the valley before perching on the ledge where Isla waits with our fathers and mother.

The battle is over. Turin, who saved Isla from the well in Branlock, is the victor. I should feel happy for him, yet I only feel humiliation and rage at being the first to face defeat in the battle of brothers.





Chapter 5





ISLA



Growing up in Branlock accustomed me to the sound of dragon wings, the heat of fire in the night as they burnt what fields villagers weren’t allowed to plant. Two maidens were taken from Branlock in my lifetime—both during my childhood. Only adults are allowed to witness a claiming, so my first real look at a dragon was when the ShadowFell slaughtered my village.

I was unconscious when the Drakoryans had taken me from the ruins of Branlock. And because they’d not wanted to frighten me, I’d been given a sleeping draught before the Lords of Za’vol had taken me home from Castle Fra’hir.

Lyla had warned me that it might frighten me to see the Lords of Za’vol change for the first time. I don’t think she realized that first time would be the day of their battle.

What they’d intended as a proof of devotion, I saw as a display of savagery. The screams still ring in my ears and when Turin transforms, I cannot separate the man he becomes from the creature he was. I stand rooted to the spot as Lord Egir walks over to embrace his son, his bearded face radiating a father’s pride.

“You fought well, Turin.”

Even Lord Orys manages a smile. “I would have preferred it be Jayx, but we are all family.” He looks at his other brother. “Right, Udra?”